FAA Safety Seminar To Address Ongoing DC ADIZ Incursions

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Thirty-one of the 117 pilots who violated the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the last six months did so while operating to or from the Leesburg Executive Airport in Leesburg, Va., according to the FAA’s National Capital Regional Coordination Center (NCRCC), which monitors ADIZ traffic for security violations. The FAA Safety Team announced this week that it will host a seminar in Leesburg on March 1 to address problems pilots are apparently having complying with the “Leesburg maneuvering area” portion of the ADIZ.

Dennis Boykin, chairman of the Leesburg Executive Airport Commission, told AVweb that the local pilot community continues to be frustrated by the wording of the NOTAM. "The NOTAM is difficult to understand, and we're working with the FAA to see if we can clear things up," Boykin said.

Leesburg Airport won a key concession from the FAA and security agencies last summer when the redesigned ADIZ was published. Because Leesburg is located on the western fringe of the 30-mile ADIZ ring, pilots can take off from Leesburg and depart the ADIZ to the west, or enter the traffic pattern to land from the west, without talking to air traffic control as long as they file a flight plan, announce their intentions on CTAF and squawk 1226 when departing or 1227 when arriving. Pilots at all other airports within the ADIZ are also required to file flight plans and must establish two-way communications with the Potomac TRACON.

The seminar notice, curiously titled “Applying the Darwin Theory of Evolution,” states that pilots continue to violate the ADIZ “virtually every day.” Boykin said that a group of pilots based at Leesburg are doing what they can to prevent more incursions by posting signs around the field, updating the airport’s Web site with guidance on how to comply with the NOTAM, and adding a message to the airport’s AWOS recording reminding pilots to not squawk 1200 — which tends to attract the attention of the NCRCC.

“We thought that this procedure was pretty simple and that we’d see a decrease in violations, but it actually had the opposite effect,” the NCRCC’s manager of system operations security, James Johnston, told AVweb. “We’re kind of between a rock and a hard place with the military, trying to be in a position to work with the pilots and not be heavy handed. We want to make sure that we get this addressed.” Johnston said that if pilots continue to violate the Leesburg maneuvering area, gaining additional ADIZ relief for Washington area pilots “will be a hard sell.”